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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 54°21′00″N 6°39′17″W / 54.349953°N 6.654624°W / 54.349953; -6.654624

Irish: Ard Mhacha
The Mall, Armagh.jpg
The Mall, looking eastwards
Armagh is located in Northern Ireland

 Armagh shown within Northern Ireland
Population 14,590 (2001 Census)
Irish grid reference H876455
    - Belfast  33 miles 
District Armagh
County County Armagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town ARMAGH
Postcode district BT60, BT61
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
NI Assembly Newry and Armagh
List of places: UK • Northern Ireland • Armagh

Armagh (from the Irish: Ard Mhacha meaning "Macha's height") is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is an ancient site of worship for both Celtic paganism and Christianity. Although classed as a medium-sized town,[1] Armagh was granted city status by Queen Elizabeth II in 1994. Its population of 14,590 (2001 Census) makes it the least-populated city in both Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland.





Emain Macha (or Navan Fort) at the city's edge, is believed to have been used as an ancient pagan ritual or ceremonial site. According to Irish mythology it was once the capital of Ulster, until it was abandoned during the 1st century. The site was named after the goddess Macha, and as the settlement grew on the hills nearby, it was also named after the goddess — Ard Mhacha means "The Height of Macha".

When Christianity spread to Ireland during the mid-400s, Armagh became the island's "ecclesiastical capital", as Saint Patrick established his principal church there. Saint Patrick decreed that only those educated in Armagh could spread the gospel. According to the Annals of the Four Masters, in the year 457:

Ard Mhacha was founded by Saint Patrick, it having been granted to him by Daire, son of Finnchadh, son of Eoghan, son of Niallan. Twelve men were appointed by him for building the town. He ordered them, in the first place, to erect an archbishop's city there, and a church for monks, for nuns, and for the other orders in general, for he perceived that it would be the head and chief of the churches of Ireland in general.

Medieval era

In 839 and 869, the monastery in Armagh was raided by Vikings. As with similar raids, their objective was simply to acquire valuables such as silver, which the churches and monasteries often kept.

The Book of Armagh came from the monastery. It is a 9th century Irish manuscript now held by the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (ms 52). It contains some of the oldest surviving specimens of Old Irish.

Brian Boru is believed to be buried in the cemetery of the St. Patrick's Church of Ireland cathedral. After having conquered the island during the 990s, he became High King of Ireland in 1002, until his death in 1014.

In 1189, John de Courcy, a Norman knight who had invaded Ulster in 1177, plundered Armagh.[2]

Modern era

Armagh has been an educational centre since the time of Saint Patrick, and thus it has been referred to as "the city of saints and scholars". The educational tradition continued with the foundation of the Royal School in 1608 and the Armagh Observatory in 1790. This was part of the Archbishop's plan to have a university founded in the city. This ambition was finally fulfilled, albeit briefly, in the 1990s when Queen's University of Belfast opened an outreach centre in the former hospital building.

Three brother from Armagh died at the Somme during World War One. Andrew, 38, David and Robert Hobbs, all of 9th (Service) Battalion the Royal Irish Fusiliers. None of the three has a known grave and all are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. A fourth brother, Herbert, was wounded in the same attack.

The Troubles

For more information see The Troubles in Armagh, which includes a list of incidents in Armagh during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities.

2001 Census

The population of Armagh City on Census day (29th April 2001) was 14,590 people. The demographic characteristics of the people living in Armagh City was as follows:

  • 25.1% were aged under 16 years;
  • 17.5% were aged 60 and over;
  • the average age was 35.2 years (NI average age 35.8 years);
  • 48.1% of the population were male and 51.9% were female;
  • 68.3% were from a Catholic Community Background;
  • 30.2% were from a 'Protestant and Other Christian (including Christian related)' Community Background;
  • 11.6% were born outside Northern Ireland; and
  • 1.0% were from an ethnic group other than white.

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service

Buildings of note

Armagh is the site of two cathedrals, both on hills and both named after Saint Patrick. The Church of Ireland cathedral dates back to around 445. The present-day, post-Reformation, Roman Catholic cathedral was constructed during the latter half of the 1800s and features twin 64m spires, making it the tallest such structure in the county. Armagh is the only city in the world which is home to two cathedrals of the same name.

Thomas Street

The city is home to the Armagh Observatory, founded in 1790, and to the Armagh Planetarium, established in 1968 to complement the research work of the Observatory. It has a Georgian area of heritage importance.

The palace of the Archbishop of Armagh is now the local council offices and, along with the archbishop's private chapel, is open to the public. The Palace Stables heritage centre is a reconstructed stable block dating from the 1700s, which was once part of the Archbishop's estate.

Among the city's chief glories is the public library on Abbey Street. Founded in 1771 by Archbishop Richard Robinson (later Lord Rokeby), using his own library as its nucleus, it is especially rich in 17th and 18th century English books, including Dean Jonathan Swift's own copy of the first edition of his Gulliver's Travels with his manuscript corrections.

Armagh Market House was built in 1815 as a two-storey five-bay building, and is currently used as a library.

City Centre regeneration

To combat the problem of a diminishing City Centre and to address the concerns of local people, Armagh City and District Council decided to upgrade the surfaces and general appearance of the main shopping areas.

The scheme aims to deal with the many issues raised by the public and businesses over recent years. It will regenerate the centre of Armagh transforming it into a high-quality pedestrian-friendly environment. The ineffective pedestrian area in Market Street will be opened officially to vehicles. The scheme will provide wider footpaths, pedestrian crossings and disabled parking throughout the City Centre to improve safety and accessibility.

As well as new street layouts; new lighting, paving, seating, bins and greenery will also greatly enhance the appearance of the City Centre. The use of quality stone materials, public art projects and feature lighting will contribute to the overall effect and present our City’s famous architecture at its best. A Shop Frontage Scheme will be launch toward the end of the street development project.

The Scheme includes 11 streets:

Market Street, Thomas Street, Ogle Street, Scotch Street, Dobbin Street, Dobbin StreetLane, Barrack Street, McCrum's Court, Upper English Street, Russell Street, Ogle Street, Linenhall Street

The £5m Armagh City Centre Regeneration Scheme is funded by Armagh City and District Council, the Department of Social Development, Roads Service and the Arts Council.


The city is run by Armagh City and District Council, headquartered in Armagh, which covers a larger area than just the city, but not the entire county. Together with part of the district of Newry and Mourne, it forms the Newry & Armagh constituency for elections to the Westminster Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly. The Member of Parliament is Conor Murphy of Sinn Féin, who is a former Provisional Irish Republican Army prisoner and a member of the Sinn Féin negotiations team. He won the seat in the United Kingdom general election, 2005, after the retirement of long-serving SDLP MP Seamus Mallon.

The city has a long reputation as an administrative centre and currently located in the city is the headquarters of the Southern Education and Library Board and the Southern Health and Social Services Board.

The secretariat of the North-South Ministerial Council is based in Armagh, and consists jointly of members of the civil services of both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Armagh is the seat of both the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, both of whom hold the position of Primate of All Ireland for their respective denominations.



  • Armstrong Primary School
  • Christian Brothers Primary School Armagh
  • The Drelincourt Primary School[3]
  • Drumhillery Primary School
  • Mount St Catherine's Primary School
  • St. Colmcille's Primary School
  • St. Malachy's Primary School
  • St. Patrick's Primary School
  • Saints and Scholars Integrated Primary School



Armagh acquired rail links to Belfast in 1848 (Armagh railway station opened on 1 March 1848),[5] Monaghan in 1858, Newry in 1864 and Keady in 1909. The line to Newry was closed in 1933, and all other lines to Armagh were closed on 1 October 1957.[5]

The Armagh rail disaster, which killed 78 people, occurred on 12 June 1889 near Armagh on the line to Newry.


Gaelic football is popular in Armagh, its two major clubs being Armagh Harps[6] and Pearse Ógs.

In 2004, The Royal School, Armagh became only the second team in history to win both the schools' rugby and hockey cups in the same year.

The City of Armagh Rugby Club is based in the city.[7]

The Mall in Armagh has a long association with cricket, and is the location of the Armagh Cricket Club clubhouse. Famous captains in recent years include Chris Cairns, Andrew Rennie, David Bullick and Marco Elliott.[8]

Armagh City Football Club currently plays in the IFA Championship.

Town twinning

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel


Armagh [1] is a city in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It has a population of 14,590.

Get around

Armagh is small enough to explore on foot.

An historical City where St Patrick built his first stone church in 432AD and where a church has stood ever since. Today that church is Saint Patrick's Church of Ireland Cathedral the seat of Primate Harpur, Archbishop & Primate of All Ireland (Church of Ireland). On the neighbouring hill top stands the twin spires of the magnificent 19th century St Patrick's Roman Catholic Cathedral the seat of Cardinal Brady, Archbishop & Primate of All Ireland (Roman Catholic Church).

This City is known today as the Ecclesiastical Capital of Ireland in other words the home of the heads of the two main churches in Ireland! Pilgrims travel from all over the world to visit this small city with two cathedrals both dedicated to Saint Patrick!

  • St Patrick's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) Dates from the 13th Century, open most days with guides inside.
  • St Patrick's Cathedral (Roman Catholic) - built between 1840 and 1904, and has an impressive interior.
  • St Patrick's Trian A visitor centre with exhibitions on the History of Armagh and "The Land of Lilliput". Open daily. Admission charge.
  • Palace Stables Heritage Centre Actors behave as if it was 1786 in the former Archbishop's Stables. Open daily. Admission charge.
  • Armagh County Museum The usual assortment of items found in a small regional museum. Open Mon-Sat. Admission Free.
  • Navan Fort 81 Killylea Road, Armagh, BT60 4LD. [3] Fort from about 95BC with visitor centre about two miles West of the town centre. Open weekends April - Sept, and daily June - Aug (Mon-Sat 10-5, Sun 12-5) Admission £5.
  • Armagh Planetarium [4]
  • Armagh Guided Tours (028) 37 551119 Local accredited Blue Badge Guide Barbara planning and guiding visitors around Armagh City - St Patrick's Chosen City. Plenty of history and lots of humour! [5]
  • Armagh City Youth Hostel,39 Abbey Street, Armagh, BT61 7EB, T: +44 (0) 28 3751 1800. Modern youth hostel near the city centre.
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